For many people who struggle to get a good night’s rest, being able to switch on and off the brain circuits that control sleep would be a life-changer. The good news is that’s exactly what scientists hope to do, but first they need to get a better understanding of what’s going on.
New portraits of the evolution of some of history’s deadliest pandemics have been created through analysis of thousands of skeletons and new collections of historical photographs - and the results could indicate how similar diseases may evolve in the future.
Genes and adverse childhood experiences could result in a hyperalert brain that is good at being ready for action but gives rise to insomnia in later life, according to Professor Eus Van Someren, a sleep expert at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience. He is investigating the link between insomnia and depression and has discovered a strong genetic correlation among the two conditions.
Reducing the trauma associated with bad memories while someone is asleep sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but it could become a reality in 10 years thanks to a greater understanding of how the brain encodes memories during sleep.
A cereal bar that keeps diabetes at bay is one example of how we could prevent disease by adding short molecules known as peptides into what we eat, says Dr Nora Khaldi, founder of Nuritas, which is using artificial intelligence (AI) to identify new peptides and create foods with health benefits.
For something that can occupy such a significant chunk of time, sleep still remains a mysterious part of our lives. Although it is known to play a role in mental and physical health, such as metabolism and memory, there is much that is still not well understood.
The search for alien life with next-generation telescopes, a self-healing heart capable of restarting itself, and safer roads with smarter cars are expected to feature as the some of the key scientific breakthroughs in the coming year.
Picture the humanitarian aid sector and you don’t immediately think of start-up accelerators and hackathons. But aid agencies are co-opting these tools of innovation to help solve global issues – and a new EUR 5 million prize from the EU is designed to boost this even further.
Extremophile bacteria have adapted to survive inhospitable niches.
A better understanding of sleep pressure could advance therapies.
Sleep expert says that around 10 % of people are at risk of insomnia and employers should invest in therapy for those affected.